Hard Deadlines, Soft Couch

In my career I spent a good deal of time working overnight, pulling 12, 24, and even 36 hour coding sprints. You can cram a couple of weeks of work into 36 hours. This is not unusual or heroic at all – most programmers I know routinely work crazy hours.

Because of this it is very important to have a couch for naps in the office. At my current job there are no cornerner offices. Every corner of our parallelogram-shaped building is either inside a conference room or set aside for a small meeting space. One of them is where “my” couch is. Whenever I’m working off-hours and stuck, I go there to take a nap. Just like Don Draper in “Mad Men”, I almost always wake up from the nap with an idea of how to solve the problem.

Recently there was a some kind of commercial shoot at the office, and I’ve been sent this photo. There he is, Doctor House, MD, on my couch!

Actually, I only recently started watching House, having being unable to turn off disbelief of so many doctors spending so much time on patients. I did not realize that it was a neat little pun on Sherlock Holmes, complete with drugs, loyal sidekick, and even very sexy Mrs. Hudson. Now I have 4 seasons to watch.

The Art of Dreaming

For once, I haven’t forgot to wear the little armband that comes with my sleep phase tracking alarm clock (I’ll write a review of it soonish) and everything worked perfectly: I was woken up right after a dream (and thus REM phase) was ending, well-rested and alert.

This also made me remember the dream that I was seeing. Believe it or not, all I did in that dream was look at modern art at the Guggenheim museum (the one in New York).

Beeeep beeeep beeeep beeeep SLAP

Most people I know don’t like their sleep to be interrupted. I, on the other hand, as long as I don’t have to get up right this minute, don’t mind being woke up multiple times.

First of all, the actual process of falling asleep after quieting the harsh beep of the alarm clock is a very pleasant experience. Second, I find that a short series of naps is more refreshing than a long “wow, how long was I out” sleep. I also a series of alarms has a much greater chance of waking me up from an REM state. This is the best way to wake up: the brain is already active and the dreams can be easily recalled.

At some point I wanted to make an alarm clock that would detect either eye movements or the brain waves associated with them and wake me up during REM. Understandably, for the lack of time, skills and gumption I never got further than playing with a basic stamp microcontroller and reading EEG newsgroups. I suck.

Anyhoo, this morning, between the infamous 9 minute alarm clock buzzes, I had 2 dreams.

In the first one, came for a visit to America. We went to explore the power station at Brooklyn College. Tema had a really old looking key that opened the gate. As a side note (not a part of the dream): Brooklyn College has some very interesting infrastructure. There are tunnels connecting all buildings, a power plant, a heat plant and a buncha other interesting things. I’ve heard that there is a linear accelerator somewhere. Right. So we explored the area around the power plant a bit, I pointed out Monk parrots to .

You’d think I went clubbing with in the second dream, but I didn’t. Instead I was still in Brooklyn College. My high school English teacher was giving a lecture standing behind a podium in the middle of the quad. He said: “the time now is [don’t remember] and the temperature is 28 Therms “. I asked him is there is a thermometer on his podium that measures temperature in “Therms” ( I think a Therm is the same thing as BTU). He said that that was the case. For some reason I called him Alex, even though his name is Alan.